Editor's Comment

Lungu’s interaction with media great

WITH so much anxiety regarding a lot of issues in the country, President Edgar Lungu’s decision to interact with media personnel yesterday was a very significant gesture.
This is because of the huge role the press plays in the dissemination of information about politics and socio-economic issues.
A lack of interaction between President Lungu and the press has been a recipe for breeding hearsay and rumours that can hurt the presidency and our country at large.
The President highlighted the glaring disregard for journalism ethos coupled with sustained political bias.
President Lungu acknowledged that much as he understood that he is the current tenant of State House, and susceptible to criticism, he is appalled at the amount of effort put in by the media in seeing conflict between him and his political rivals.
The President was right when he said while criticism is healthy in a democracy, those few politicians that are quoted on a daily basis are not the only Zambians who have voices.
Zambia has over 12 million adult voices out there with fair opinions who deserve to be heard and justifiably so.
Furthermore, it was an opportunity for the President to clarify any issues that he felt were inaccurately reported.
This platform also afforded President Lungu an opportunity to speak about the current challenges the country is going through such as the energy crisis and what his government is doing to overcome them.
He briefed the nation on what his administration is doing for the good of the country, including how debt is being contained within sustainable levels through implementation of austerity measures.
There is a medium-term debt strategy which has been developed to inform the path for debt sustainability.
To achieve this, Government has implemented a number of policy measures to maintain debt within sustainable levels, protect the vulnerable, and reduce the cost of running Government.
On energy reforms, the head of State said progress has been made on sector-wide energy reforms, including electricity and petroleum, adding that Government’s intention is to enable 100 percent private sector importation of fuel and get tariffs for electricity to cost-reflective levels.
He reiterated the negative impact of climate change, which has contributed to the power deficit. The power deficit has impacted heavily on household level and small-scale businessmen, whose businesses depend on electricity as they endure long hours without electricity to power their businesses.
The lasting solution to the power deficit is indeed more investment in renewable energy such as solar.
There was assurance about the State working round the clock to address the threats to our national food security, including putting in place measures that will ensure relief maize and mealie-meal is available under the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit.
Government has partnered with millers in Southern and Western provinces to stabilise the supply of maize and mealie meal.
Maize supply and prices of mealie-meal will remain stable between now and the next harvest.
The interaction yesterday provided the press with an opportunity to ask the President questions on pressing issues that they may have had.
The interaction was indeed refreshing as it broke the ice around press conferences, especially how President Lungu ably dealt with the diverse questions that were asked with a number of national concerns.
The President interacted with all media personnel – more than 100 – without segregation.
The Presidency must be commended for coming up with this initiative to interact with members of the press as the fourth estate plays an important role in the socio-economic development of our country.
Not so many Presidents would do what Mr Lungu did yesterday.

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